U.S. lands top 10 finishes in European Cup opener
Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director
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U.S. lands top 10 finishes in European Cup opener
KOENIGSSEE, Germany (Nov. 25, 2012)- Four U.S. rookie skeleton athletes navigated the challenging track in Koenigssee, Germany for the first time in their careers, while one women’s bobsled pilot ventured to Igls, Austria to gain valuable experience in the European Cup season opener. The U.S. squad collectively earned four top 10 finishes.
“It’s been great being able to slide in Europe, and the whole team is very excited to be able to represent the U.S.,” said women’s skeleton athlete Rachelle Rasmussen (Belmont, Calif.). “Since this was the first time any of us had been to the Koenigssee track, we made a concerted effort to help each other and give feedback on a daily basis.”
Rasmussen led the skeleton team in Koenigssee’s competitions on Nov. 24-25. The fifth year national team athlete posted consistent combined times of 1:49.41 and 1:49.44 for ninth and 10th place finishes, respectively.
“On race day my goals were to be consistent and to get a personal best start time and down time,” Rasmussen said. “I’m really happy to say I was able to achieve both. Every day I have been improving. Overall I’m really happy with my continued improvement and to have the opportunity to represent the U.S.”
Rasmussen set a personal best down time of 54.69 seconds in the first race, and then a personal best start time of 5.33 seconds in the second race.
Rasmussen’s teammate Sherri Emery (New Gloucester, Maine) finished 17th on both days with total times of 1:52.05 and 1:52.50. The junior athlete has been focusing on gaining speed and strength to improve her start times, which she achieved this week with a push time of 5.36 seconds in today’s race.
“This was a great experience on a really fun track,” Emery said. “I had some pretty fast pushes during the week. I struggled with Kreisel in the races, but I learned something new about the track on every run. I’m looking forward and am already preparing for the next race right away.”
German athletes swept the podium both days, and Lena Joch dominated by over 1.50 seconds in both days to easily win the Koenigssee races. Joch posted times of 1:45.68 to lead by 1.64 seconds yesterday, and clocked a combined time of 1:45.36 to win by 1.71 seconds today.
Sarah Sartor claimed silver both days with two-run totals of 1:47.32 and 1:47.07. Kim Meylemans’ total time of 1:47.67 was good enough for bronze in the first race, while Maxi Just claimed bronze today with a two-run total of 1:47.30.
Allen Blackwell (Jackson, Miss.) was the top finisher for the U.S. in the men’s skeleton races, and was one of only two sliders to clock 112km/h over the two days of racing.
“I am really proud of how all the Americans performed during our first international races of the season,” Blackwell said. “We came into this week as the underdogs.”
Blackwell was 17th the first day with a total time of 1:46.39, but improved seven places to finish 10th today with a combined time of 1:45.03.
“I had the fourth fastest speed, but compared to the field I had to claw my way out of the ditch with my start times,” Blackwell said. “The second day I was looking forward to improving. I had a good first run and knew I could move up in the field if I could put together another solid run. Before the final heat, all the nations lined the start and started chanting ‘USA,’ and cheered me on. I had the fastest speeds and moved up to finish 10th.”
Greg West (Orange Beach, Ala.) is competing in only his third season, and the rookie slider wrestled with the Koenigssee course. He crossed the finish in 1:46.76 to finish 19th the first day.
“I threw down start and down personal best times, but struggled to 19th,” West said.
West had even more trouble the second day, and his finish time of 53.24 seconds was just short of qualifying for a second run.
“The second day saw the field going much faster as a whole,” West said. “I went for a very aggressive line in Kreisel trying to find speed. The line was good. The counter steer on the end was not. Caught the short wall and the sled on its bumpers going through chicane. It was still my third fastest run of the week, but only good enough for 25th. I’d kill to have another crack at it.”
Kilian von Schleinitz from Germany was victorious in the first men’s race with a combined time of 1:44.39, followed by Anze Setina from Slovokia with a total time of 1:44.69. Ruslan Sabitov from Russia clocked 1:44.81 to claim bronze.
Setina nabbed gold the second day with an aggregate time of 1:43.63. Nikita Tregybov from Russia was able to move into silver medal position after posting a time of 1:44.03, while Michael Zachrau managed to earn bronze for the host nation with a combined time of 1:44.13.
Second year women’s bobsled pilot Megan Hill (Woodstock, Ga.) competed in the European Cup season opener in Igls from Nov. 16-19. Hill teamed with push athletes Maureen Ajoku (San Jose, Calif.) and Hyleas Fountain (Harrisburg, Pa.) for the three-race series.
“Igls was an absolute blast,” Hill said. “We went over to Europe to gain experience and to throw ourselves into the bobsled culture to learn as much as possible about the sport. The track finally clicked with me by the last race.”
Ajoku pushed Hill to start times of 5.85 and 5.90 seconds for runs of 55.80 and 55.61 seconds, respectively. The duo’s total time of 1:51.41 placed them in 12th position. Hill teamed with Hyleas, who earned the 2008 Olympic silver medal as a heptathlete, the second day. Hill and Hyleas clocked pushed times of 5.79 and 5.75 seconds for runs of 55.77 and 55.66 seconds. The pair finished 14th with a total time of 1:51.43. Hill teamed with Hyleas again to post her best finish of the week, eighth, after pushing identical starts of 5.76 seconds for runs of 55.51 and 55.14 seconds. Her second run was seventh fastest of the heat.
“I cannot say enough about Maureen and Hyleas,” Hill said. “Not only are they phenomenal push athletes, but they are incredible people. It was a true blessing to have them with me. We really worked together as a team and had a lot of fun together.”
Hill was scheduled to compete with Ajoku and Fountain again this week in Winterberg, Germany, but a crash during a training run cut their trip short. Heavy fog covered the course, and training was eventually canceled after several more crashes. The team returned to the states, and Hill was diagnosed with a separated acromioclavicular joint and torn conoid and trapezoid ligaments. She’ll need six weeks to heal before she’s back on ice.
“I am thinking positive and hoping the diagnoses is not too severe so I can start treatment and rehab right away and get back on the ice as soon as possible,” Hill said. “This is just a bump in the road and I am keeping my head up. I have a lot more to accomplish this season.”
The Germans swept the podium in all three races. Miriam Wagner teamed with Franziska Fritz to earn gold in the first and third races and silver in the second competition. Stefanie Szczurek and Erline Nolte were runners-up behind team Wagner, but overhauled their teammates to claim gold the second day. Carolin Zenker alternated Sarah Noll and Mariama Jamanka to win three consecutive bronze medals.
The European Cup tour will continue with all five disciplines in LaPlagne, France from Dec. 5-9.
Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at email@example.com or 518-354-2250 with media inquiries.
Women’s skeleton race #1 (Koenigssee):
1. Lena Joch (GER) 1:45.68 (52.92, 52.76); 2. Sarah Sartor (GER) 1:47.32 (53.82, 53.50); 3. Kim Meylemans (GER) 1:47.67 (54.03, 53.64);…9. Rachelle Rasmussen (USA) 1:49.41 (54.69, 54.72);…17. Sherri Emery (USA) 1:52.05 (56.86, 55.19);
Women’s skeleton race #2 (Koenigssee):
1. Lena Joch (GER) 1:45.36 (52.65, 52.71); 2. Sarah Sartor (GER) 1:47.07 (53.56, 53.51); 3. Maxi Just (GER) 1:47.30 (53.66, 53.64);…10. Rachelle Rasmussen (USA) 1:49.44 (54.71, 54.73);…17. Sherri Emery (USA) 1:52.50 (55.39, 57.11);
Men’s skeleton race #1 (Koenigssee):
1. Kilian von Schleinitz (GER) 1:44.39 (52.65, 51.74); 2. Anze Setina (SLO) 1:44.69 (52.48, 52.21); 3. Ruslan Sabitov (RUS) 1:44.81 (52.51, 52.30);…17. Allen Blackwell (USA) 1:46.39 (53.34, 53.05);…19. Greg West (USA) 1:46.76 (53.64, 53.12);
Men’s skeleton race #2 (Koenigssee):
1. Anze Setina (SLO) 1:43.63 (51.47, 52.16); 2. Nikita Tregybov (RUS) 1:44.03 (51.96, 52.07); 3. Michael Zachrau (GER) 1:44.13 (52.05, 52.08);…10. Allen Blackwell (USA) 1:45.03 (52.54, 52.49);…25. Greg West (USA) (53.24, DNS);
Women’s bobsled race #1 (Igls):
1. Miriam Wagner and Franziska Fritz (GER) 1:49.58 (54.85, 54.73); 2. Stefanie Szczurek and Erline Nolte (GER) 1:49.67 (54.79, 54.88); 3. Carolin Zenker and Sarah Noll (GER) 1:49.71 (54.87, 54.84);…12. Megan Hill and Maureen Ajoki (USA) 1:51.41 (55.80, 55.61);
Women’s bobsled race #2 (Igls):
1. Stefanie Szczurek and Erline Nolte (GER) 1:49.44 (54.98, 54.46); 2. Miriam Wagner and Franziska Fritz (GER) 1:49.58 (55.02, 54.56); 3. Carolin Zenker and Mariama Jamanka (GER) 1:49.87 (55.09, 54.78);…14. Megan Hill and Hyleas Fountain (USA) 1:51.43 (55.77, 55.66);
Women’s bobsled race #3 (Igls):
1. Miriam Wagner and Franziska Fritz (GER) 1:49.05 (54.60, 54.45); 2. Stefanie Szczurek and Erline Nolte (GER) 1:49.07 (54.72, 54.35); 3. Carolin Zenker and Sarah Noll (GER) 1:49.26 (54.76, 54.50);…8. Megan Hill and Hyleas Fountain (USA) 1:50.65 (55.51, 55.14);
About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, United States National Guard, Kampgrounds of America, WIDIA, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Azad Watches, Latta Kefir, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.